NWS: Top 10 list 2006-07-26

THE TOP 10 LIST NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 26, 2006) - This is a glance at the current top 10 drivers in the championship standings in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series. The...

NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 26, 2006) - This is a glance at the current top 10 drivers in the championship standings in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series. The top 10 drivers in each of the four series (Midwest, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest) in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division will be invited to compete in the fourth annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, October 20-21 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. This special post-season invitational event will be broadcast on SPEED and awards competitors nearly $500,000 in prize money.

No. 1 -- Gary Lewis, Bothell, Wash. (No. 73 Nutter Racing Engines/Victory Circle Chassis Chevrolet), Team: Moore-Lewis Racing. Points: 1007 Previous ranking: 1. It's hard to lose ground in the championship point standings while winning. Lewis collected his third win in six outings this season last Saturday at Yakima (Wash.) Speedway. With three victories, a pair of second-place finishes and a 12th-place effort, his average finishing position is 3.17. In his Northwest Series career, now in its 14th year, Lewis has won multiple races in nine of those seasons and won more than two events three times. While he has eight career wins at Evergreen Speedway, he has just one victory in his last 10 races there. However, he has finished in the top five in exactly half of those events.

No. 2 -- Travis Bennett, Ellensburg, Wash. (No. 33 Bowman's Electro Painting/Knudson Lumber/Farmer's Insurance Chevrolet), Team: DS Racing. Points: 960 (-47). Previous ranking: 2. For the third time this season and the fourth time in his Northwest Series career Bennett posted a second-place finish. Second isn't bad and certainly not since point leader Gary Lewis won the race and Bennett was able to minimize the lost ground. He now has 13 top-five finishes in his last 26 Northwest Series starts and 22 top-10 performances over that span. Bennett won both Bud Pole Awards last season at Evergreen Speedway with both of those events held on the .646-mile track.

No. 3 -- Brandon Riehl, Boring, Ore. (No. 69 Aero Turbine/Darrell's Economy Muffler Chevrolet), Team: Hanson Racing. Points: 878 (-129). Previous ranking: 3. With Lewis and Bennett finishing first and second last Saturday in Yakima, Riehl had to finish third to keep pace. And he followed up his win on the 3/8-mile oval at Evergreen with a third-place finish at Yakima Speedway. Riehl, like Bennett, has an impressive resume over the last two and a half seasons. In 26 starts, he has four victories, 12 top-fives and 20 top 10s. Riehl has just one career top-five finish on the .646-mile oval at Evergreen coming on July 12, 2003. In the two Northwest Series visits a season ago, he finished 16th and sixth.

No. 4 -- Jeff Barkshire, Auburn, Wash. (No. 46 Centennial Batteries/SPE Racing Engines Dodge), Team: Barkshire Racing. Points: 827 (-180). Previous ranking: 8. Barkshire leapt past as many fellow competitors as possible with his fourth-place showing in Yakima. The three drivers who finished above him in the race are the three who precede him in the point standings. He started on the pole last Saturday night, but his car was not turning well in the early going resulting in Lewis, Bennett and Riehl passing him fairly easily, but he was able to bounce back from a 22nd-place finish on Evergreen's 3/8-mile track on July 15.

No. 5 -- Shane Mitchell, Orondo, Wash. (No. 99 Mitchell Trucking & Paving/Coca-Cola Chevrolet), Team: Mitchell Motorsports. Points: 815 (-192). Previous ranking: 6. Mitchell continues to be the man on the move up the charts. He has used four consecutive top-10 runs to move from 19th in points, where he sat after the race on June 10 at Magic Valley Speedway, to his current fifth-place position. He now stands at the top of the Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year standings, as well as, being the highest ranked of the four rookie contenders in the top 10. This Saturday will be a test for the No. 99 team as it will be their first race on the .646-mile track in a Northwest Series car.

No. 6 -- Wilbur Bruce, Lakewood, Wash. (No. 8 Quality Rentals/Rent 'N Roll/Six Robblees Chevrolet), Team: Neil Weiner Racing. Points: 807 (-200). Previous ranking: 7. Bruce finished ninth last Saturday in Yakima ending a short streak of two races finishing outside of the top 10 after beginning the year with three straight top-10 efforts. He has not fared all that well at Evergreen Speedway, posting just one top-five finish in his Northwest Series career which was a second-place showing on March 28, 1998. He did finish sixth last season in the July 9 event.

No. 7 -- Jay Sauls, Puyallup, Wash. (No. 20 Tri-State Restaurant Supply/Canyon Auto Paint Supply Chevrolet), Team: Sauls Racing. Points: 775 (-232). Previous ranking: 4. After winning in Wenatchee in just his fourth series start, Sauls has finished the last two races outside of the top 20. In the process he has slipped from third to seventh in points and fallen from the lead in the Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year standings to third. He, like Mitchell, will be put to the test this Saturday night in his first Northwest Series race on the big track at Evergreen under race conditions in the 150-lap event.

No. 8 -- Garrett Evans, East Wenatchee, Wash. (No. 64 Leonard Evans Hyundai/Signature Financing Chevrolet), Team: Evans Racing. Points: 767 (-240). Previous ranking: 11. Evans bounced back in a big way last weekend at Yakima Speedway. The four-time series champion finished fifth to post his first top five of the season and second top 10. He was coming off his worst finish in three seasons. He won his second Bud Pole of the season in Yakima becoming the first Northwest Series competitor, so far, to win more than one in 2006. As is the case at just about every track on the circuit, Evans leads the all-time list in wins at Evergreen, but his last came on March 30, 1996. He, however, does have five top-five finishes since that last victory including a fourth-place finish last season on August 13.

No. 9 -- Mike Longton, Moxee, Wash. (No. 37 Key Financial/Owens Enterprises Chevrolet), Team: Longton Motorsports. Points: 756 (-251). Previous ranking: 5. Longton's visit to his home track of Yakima Speedway last weekend did not work out as well as planned. He finished 26th, his worst finish to date this season. Last season, Longton lost a motor in the July 9 event at Evergreen Speedway and finished 18th after starting on the outside pole. He did not compete in the August 13 show on the .646-mile track. He has dropped to fourth in the Sunoco Rookie standings, but is still very much in reach of the coveted award.

No. 10 -- B.J. Tidrick, Yakima, Wash. (No. 72 Winner's Choice/CBT Slotcars & Hobbies Chevrolet), Team: Tidrick Racing. Points: 745 (-262). Previous ranking: 12. Tidrick powered his way back into the top 10 in points after sliding to 12th following the July 15 race on Evergreen's 3/8-mile track. He finished 10th last weekend in Yakima for his third top-10 effort of the season. He is another Sunoco rookie who will be competing for the first time in the Northwest Series on the .646-mile track at Evergreen Speedway. He currently holds sixth place in the rookie standings, 11 points off the pace set by Mitchell.

On the bubble:

No. 11 -- John Bender, Snohomish, Wash. (No. 18 OSO Lumber/Natural Concepts Landscaping Chevrolet), Team: Kearney Racing. Points: 742 (-265). Previous ranking: 10. Bender's streak of consecutive top 10s was broken by a 17th-place showing in Yakima. It was not a typical performance by the No. 18 team from the very start. They started 23rd on the grid and it never really got better after that. Bender is in a bit of a precarious position; a 25-point swing could land him in the eighth position or the 15th. Last August 13, though, Bender led 77 laps to collect the win on his home track of Evergreen Speedway.

New to the top 10: Garrett Evans and B.J. Tidrick

Dropped out of the top 10: Steven Howard and John Bender


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Drivers Shane Mitchell , John Bender , Gary Lewis , Jeff Barkshire